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Proud of our Airmen and my Air Force

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Having recently returned from Iraq, I've thought a lot about events that transpired. I commanded Airmen tasked to provide support to the Army, filling in where the Army needed help; these were Airmen filling In Lieu Of Taskings (ILOs.) My unit was the catch-all unit; receiving airmen who didn't fit into any one specific genre or specialty. I had operational control and administrative control for airmen working postal, the Armed Forces Network, combat stress control, electronic warfare, Central Criminal Courts of Iraq, protocol, detention operations, civil affairs, administrative support, vehicle operations, communications, combat camera, and many more. I had airmen all over Iraq and visited them on a regular basis.

Without exception, everywhere I went and in all my conversations with Army and Navy leadership, one theme was constant, the U.S.A.F. Airmen are awesome! There were not enough good things to say about their skills, work ethic, dedication, energy, creativity, and willingness to do whatever was required to get the job done attitude of those airmen. Nothing made me prouder than hearing the comment, "I wish I had more of them" repeated over and over. My chief and I often discussed what it was that set our Airmen apart and why they made such an impression on these other service commanders. We both had our thoughts, but one thing we reached consensus on was we both believe that it is the culture of the Air Force that sets our Airmen up to have opportunities to be successful.

We stress self-development and continuing education. The Air Force places a large amount of money and resources into taking care of our people and their families. We give our young Airmen responsibility and hold them accountable. We teach leadership and "followership" from enlistment to retirement. We encourage problem solving and offer opportunities for leaders to reward personnel. We circle the wagons around problems and come together as a community to support one another. We teach valuing the individual and the group.

I think Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley said it best in his remarks to the Air Force Association Symposium, in Orlando Feb. 2, 2006.

"...The success of this U. S. Air Force and America's air and space power hinges, I believe, on one critical node and that's our people. That's how I see the future of this Air Force, because we have the finest people in the world that wear this uniform. They are absolutely the most flexible and adaptive and professional and lethal of any group of people that have worn this uniform in the history of this country or any other military's uniform in the history of this country. We do have the greatest people in the world, we do have the greatest Airmen. We have the greatest warriors that the world has ever seen."

I've always been proud of my Air Force and our Airmen, but after serving in the desert and seeing their efforts I'm prouder still. Keep up the great work!